Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
I want to get a divorce. What generally happens after a petition is filed?
After a Petition for divorce or legal separation is filed, the Petitioner has to serve the Petition and
supporting documents upon his or her spouse. After service is complete, the Respondent has 30
days to respond. The Parties must then disclose all assets and debts to each other either
voluntarily or through discovery.
Meanwhile, we will turn our attention to issues that need immediate attention such as custody
schedule, support, etc. These arrangements are temporary and can be negotiated. If the Parties
agree, they sign a stipulation and submit it to the court for approval so that the terms are
enforceable. If the other side is not willing to compromise, our firm can file a motion on your
behalf, seeking court intervention to obtain temporary orders regarding custody, support or
anything else that needs immediate resolution.
Once everything has been properly disclosed and we have conducted all necessary due diligence
on your behalf, we will attempt to reach a permanent agreement. If necessary, we will go to trial
with issues that cannot be resolved amicably.
How do I get to talk to an attorney?
All you need to do is contact our office at (619) 546-8126 or email us by using the contact form
provided in the menu bar.
What’s the initial consultation?
Our consultations are free and entitle you to one-on-one time with an experienced family law
How much does retaining an attorney cost?
The Herrera Law Firm provides a free initial consultation. The proposed hourly billing will be
discussed during your initial consultation. We require a retainer up front and the amount of the
retainer is determined at your initial consultation, after analyzing your case.
Is hiring a divorce lawyer necessary?
Handling a divorce case requires analyzing your particular facts, knowledge of the law,
knowledge of the court system, strategic thinking, and an ability to separate emotions when
making critical decisions. Make sure to consult an attorney and assess for yourself if going it
alone is a prudent choice.
What is the difference between Legal Separation and a Divorce?
One of the major differences is that at the end of a Legal Separation, you are still married. At the
end of a Divorce, marital status is terminated and your status is returned to “single.”
How long does it take to obtain a Divorce in California?
The soonest a married person can become single in the state of California is six (6) months from
the date the petition for divorce is served on the other party. However, it can take much longer if
the matter is contested. You may have the opportunity to bifurcate the action and have your
marital status terminated while continuing your divorce action on all the other matters.
Should I move out of the family residence?
A party can move out of the family residence by agreement or court order. Please call us today
and schedule a consultation before making a decision to move out of the family residence. The
choice should be informed and intelligent once it has been determined to be a sound strategy
after consulting with the Herrera Law Firm.
How does the court decide child custody in the State of California?
The court uses the best interests of the children standard. The court usually determines that it is
in the best interests of the children to have frequent and continuous contact with both parents.
Additionally, the court likes to establish a parenting plan that promotes stability for the children.
Depending on your facts, a court-ordered parenting plan can range from having the parents
sharing the children equally to only allowing one parent to have very limited time with the
Can the other parent move away with our children?
It is possible for the other parent to move away with the children. There are requirements that
must be met first in order for such a move to take place.
How do I protect my custody and visitation rights?
Do not remove yourself from your children’s life because of a divorce. You need to continue
spending time with your kids. The more time you spend parenting your children, the higher your
chances are to maintain that role during and after a divorce.
How much will I have to pay for child support?
The Herrera Law Firm is adept at calculating and exploring all possible variables that can be
present in your case, that affect the final children support amount. Examples of these variables
include health insurance, medical needs, hardships, and other considerations such as respective
incomes of both parents and time spent with your children.
How is spousal support calculated?
There are two types of spousal support—temporary and permanent. Temporary spousal support
may be ordered by the court for the period after the filing of the Petition for dissolution until
ultimate resolution of the matter (by trial or otherwise). Permanent spousal support may be
ordered when the dissolution proceedings are coming to a close (at trial, for example).
Temporary spousal support is primarily based on both parties’ incomes, but other factors are also
part of the calculation. Permanent spousal support, on the other hand, is not calculated using a
computer program. There are many factors that the court should consider in determining
permanent spousal support. If you and your spouse are unable to agree on the amount of spousal
support that is to be paid by one spouse to the other, the party seeking spousal support should file
a request for spousal support with the court. You should consult with an attorney regarding
Are all the decisions made in my divorce judgment final?
Orders in a final judgment can be modified prospectively in the areas of children
custody, visitation, and support. Modifications of the orders in the final judgment can be sought
when one of the parties circumstances change. If you feel your circumstances have changed, you
should have an attorney analyze whether your judgment should be modified. Contact the Herrera
Law Firm to set up an initial consultation. How does the property division aspect of our divorce work?
California is a community property state, which means that property, earned or acquired during
marriage, will be divided by the courts as evenly as possible. Identification, characterization and
valuation of assets can be a complicated process that should involve the help of an experienced
Am I responsible for my former spouse’s card debt in a divorce?
Normally all debts incurred during marriage are considered community property debt and both
parties are equally liable, but there are exceptions. Contact the Herrera Law Firm to have our
experienced attorney explain this analysis to you.
Do all divorce cases go to court?
No. There are other options available to complete a divorce case including mediation and
collaborative divorce. However, these approaches are often unfamiliar to the parties and should
be explained by an experienced divorce lawyer.
What if I do not want a divorce?
Your spouse has every right to be divorced, even if you want to remain married. You might
suggest that you and your spouse try marriage counseling, before your spouse files a Petition for
Can you modify child support orders?
The court takes several things into account when ordering the payment of child support. First,
the number of children is considered. Next, the incomes of both parents are determined, along
with the percentage of time each parent has physical custody of the children. The court
considers both parties’ tax filing status and may consider hardships, such as a child of another
relationship. An existing order for child support may be modified when the income of one of the
parents changes significantly, the parenting schedule changes significantly, or a new child is
Can I deny my former spouse visitation?
In almost all circumstances, you should not deny the other parent visitation if there is a court
order allowing them time with your minor children. It is not advisable to violate any court orders
as there can be very serious consequences. You should consult an attorney if you believe your
children should not spend time with the other parent.
How do I get custody of our child(ren)?
You will need to file a request with the court for orders regarding custody of your minor
children. Upon receiving your request, the court will set a date for a hearing on the matter. Your
request will need to be served on the other parent in advance of the hearing. The other parent
will have an opportunity to respond to the material contained in your request. The court will
consider the information you have provided in your request, as well as the information provided
by you’re the other parent in response to your request. At the hearing on your request for
custody orders, the court may ask you and the other parent questions to further clarify the facts of
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